Present Plight of Textbook Publishing in the Philippines

Closing Remarks
Inclusive of the Speech of PEPA President Emeritus

Atty. Dominador D. Buhain
on the
“Present Plight of Textbook Publishing in the Philippines”
and
“PEPA’s Membership with the ASEAN Book Publishers’ Association (ABPA)”
During the Pepcon at the SMX on September 19, 2014

 

At the outset, allow me to express my thanks to the PEPA leadership for giving me the Closing Remark slot and for giving me the permission as well to give a few words about the plight of the book publishing industry from my perspective, as well as citation of the PEPA’s initiative during the preceding nine (9) years beginning on August 9, 2005 in forming the ASEAN Book Publishers’ Association or ABPA and to actively participate thereto until this writing.

The speech on the plight of the publishing industry in the Philippines is based exclusively on my personal observation and does not necessarily reflect the view of PEPA. As the First (1st) Chairman of the National Book Development Board which was organized in 1996 pursuant to the passage of the Book Publishing Industry Development Act on June 7,1995, allow me to cite the following:

  • On June 7, 1995 the Book Publishing Industry Development Act (RA.8047) was passed to abolish government monopoly of book publishing where the government shall provide the parameters and the private sector shall come up with publications to respond to these parameters;
  • From the time the law was passed until now or after a period of nineteen (19) years, Sections 10 and 11 of RA 8047 which describe the procedural steps to be undertaken where government would relinquish in favor of private sector textbook publishing, the government has not lifted a finger to find realization of these steps;
  • The National Book Development Board (NBDB) which was an entity which should be within the Office of the President (as originally framed by the lawmakers) to further ensure the independence of the NBDB from being dictated upon by DepEd to prevent the government monopolization of book publishing became dysfunctional when EO 189 “Transferring the National Book Development Board from the Office of the President to the Department of Education” was issued on March 31,2003, unmindful of the rationale behind the passage of RA 8047;

C.1 On May 26,2003 virtually all the private sector associations involved in book selling, publishing and printing under the leadership of the Philippine Educational Publishers’ Association presented a position paper against EO 189;

Name of Association Acronym Signatory
C.1.1 Asian Catholic Publishers Association, Inc. ACPI Mr. Louie Reyes
C.1.2 Association of Philippine Booksellers APB Ms. Marites
C.1.3 Association of Philippine Legal Writers APLW Dr. Edgardo Paras
C.1.4 Book Development Association of the Philippines BDAP Mr. Lirio Sandoval
C.1.5 Book Exporters Association of the Philippines BEAP Mr. Ramon Rocha
C.1.6 Book Printers Association of the Philippines BPAP Mr. Mario D. Buhain
C.1.7 Nationwide Book Network,Inc. LIBRO Mr. Eduardo Makabenta
C.1.8National Book Suppliers Association of the Philippines NBSAP Ms Florinia Espiritu Santo
C.1.9 Publishers Association of the Philippines PAPI Mr. Juan P. Dayang
C.1.10 Philippine Book Federation Philbook Mr. Jorge Garcia
C.1.11Printing Industries Association of the Philippines PIAP Mr. Jose Agaton Sibal
C.1.12Philippine Printing Technical Foundation PPTF Mr. Emmanuel Flores
C.1.13 Publishers Representative Organization of the Philippines PROP Ms. Jennifer Macabenta

 

C.2 The above cited Position Paper was not responded to by the Government;

  • On September 26, 2013 DepEd Order No.44 entitled Moratorium in the Procurement of Supplementary Reading Materials, Reference and other Instructional Materials was issued;
  • At this writing FREE TEACHING AND LEARNING MATERIALS are being downloaded from the website of the DepEd;

 

E.1 An opinion is being presented from the industry stakeholders that under the present DepEd set up, textbook publishers run the risk of becoming merely printers of DepEd-published learning materials;

 

E.2  We are fortunate however   that lately  at least three(3) book  associations namely the Book Development Association of the Philippines(BDAP)the Philippine Educational Publishers Association (PEPA) and the National Book Suppliers’ Association of the Philippines(NBSAP) have  been  provided  an audience  by DepED to ventilate their respective  concerns on the immediate  lifting of DepED Order No.44 and  to hopefully give realization to the implementation of RA 8047 which has remained unacted upon during the preceding nineteen (19) years thus extinguishing the heretofore apprehension that had the private sector remained silent Government could go into printing of the modules themselves thus completely eradicating  the book publishing and  printing industries;

 

E.3 RA 8047 was envisioned to jumpstart the proliferation of book publishing premised on the known fact that textbook has always a built-in demand as they are required by schools;

 

E.4 It has been the contention that the government should not intervene in publishing because of conflict of interests and that the quality of a textbook must be dictated by market forces under Government set parameters ;

 

E.5 The very essence of publishing is creativity and that nobody has a monopoly of knowledge;

 

E.6 It is saddening to note that RA 8047 has been brazenly and wantonly debased thus creating negative impact on book publishing under Philippine setting;

 

E.6.1 A law was passed which won the admiration of the international community but in reality it is not being followed;

 

E.7 Based on statistical data, while Indonesia is publishing twenty thousand (20,000) titles per year, Thailand fifteen thousand (15,000), Vietnam twenty thousand(20,000), and Malaysia fifteen thousand (15000), Philippines has only around five thousand(5000);

 

E.8 According to the incumbent National Book Development Board Chairman Flor Sta. Romana Cruz (in her speech during the Kapihan Forum):

 

“US 2.881 Million worth of books were EXPORTED from PH in 2012;

US61.493Million worth of books were IMPORTED from PH market in 2012.

This data presents a book trade deficit of US$ 58 Million. The figure represents many things: but the most positive news from it is that we have enormous reading market. And this is something all of us need to seriously consider.”;

 

E.9 Pursuant to the 28th IPA Congress, as represented by the publishers and publishers association representatives who met from 12 until 15 May 2008 in Seoul, Korea, the following were agreed upon:

 

“5.The Congress calls for recognition and important role played by nongovernment publishers in textbook publishing. Governments must promote free and non-government publishing as the most efficient way of providing high-quality and need-oriented educational books to students, as starting base for the development and development of sustainable and dynamic local publishing industry.”;

 

E.10 Pursuant to the 20th International Publishers Congress from 12 until 14 of June 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa, publishers from sixty(60) countries included as one of the Specific Demands that:

 

“d. State Publishing. State publishing is a threat to the quality of education, a democratic culture, and the future of the knowledge economy. Readers need relevant, innovative, and diverse quality content. The Congress therefore calls on governments to refrain from, nationalizing educational publishing and to encourage independent, local and indigenous book industries.”;

 

• Not only are the publishers deprived of the right due them during the past nineteen(19) years as provided by law; they are not also given appropriate aesthetical, dignified and material support while exhibiting their publications regionally and internationally thus making the small booth representing the Philippines comparatively impoverished and undignified;

 

F.1 At the Frankfurt Book Fair ,which is presently the biggest bookfair in the world, all the ASEAN countries except Laos and Cambodia are given by their government respective pavilions to showcase the respective local publications wherein the local publishers exhibiting co-share on a pro-rata basis in the expense of the booth;

 

F.1.1 As cited, the Philippines, however, through the hole on the wall exhibit (one or two booths) of the Philippine Educational Publishers Association (PEPA) and/or Rex Book Store is humbly participating during these important book fairs;

 

F.2 This sad scenario must hopefully be addressed as we approach the effectivity of the ASEAN Integrated Community come 2015;

 

• On the ABPA situation from the time we were granted by the Secretary General of the ASEAN to use the name “ASEAN” which in effect is a recognition of ABPA there had been consistent interactions among the stakeholders in practically every international book fair of the ASEAN-Member Country;

 

G.1 During the early part of the preceding nine(9) years there has always been free booth allotment and meeting for every international bookfair for ABPA practically every month. Due to exigency, economic and practical considerations as well as the deepening relationship among the stakeholders or members of ABPA that have already been developed thus justifying the loosening of the rigidity and frequency of meetings the meetings have been reduced to two(2) namely the Executive Committee Meeting and the General Membership;

 

G.2 ABPA is proud to announce that they have issued fifteen(15) resolutions addressing among others the need to understand one another thus Resolution No.1 which was passed to provide an immediate translation to a dialect which is not understood by the other Member-Countries;

 

G.3 Preparation of textbooks and educational materials that will be acceptable among all the ASEAN member-publishers through co-authorships and co-publishing shall be encouraged;

 

G.4 While government should provide the guidelines with which a textbook should be formulated the private sector should be the ones to publish and enrich the guidelines through quality books. State publishing should be eradicated as it impedes the proliferation of creativity and intellectual inputs;

 

G.5 Although not much breakthrough has been achieved, the more important consideration is that the camaraderie that has been nurtured and developed among the ASEAN countries would somehow facilitate meeting challenges of the ASEAN Economic Community(AEC) in a more cordial and friendly atmosphere as compared to a non-friendly and hostile mode of winning collaborations;

 

• Amidst the Six Hundred (600) million inhabitants of the ASEAN Region, it is worth mentioning on the four(4) characteristics of the AEC namely:

 

H.1One market and production base;

H.2 A highly competitive region;

H.3A region with equitable economic development;

H.4A region integrated to the global economy;

 

In the light of the foregoing, in behalf of PEPA thank you very much to the speakers for equipping the publishers with important knowledge in order that they would continue to serve as important pillars in the dissemination of knowledge.

Thank you very much

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